Great Business Minds Inspired to Think Differently

A major Invest Northern Ireland conference captured the imaginations of more than 200 local organisations today as it highlighted the urgent need for local businesses to think more strategically and creatively if they are to survive in the competitive marketplaces of tomorrow.

The Invest NI ‘Great Minds Think Differently’ conference provided a unique platform for private sector companies, voluntary organisations and public bodies to network, learn from the personal business experience of fellow participants, take part in interactive discussions and be inspired by globally renowned business strategists from the US and UK.

Speaking at the event, Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive, Invest Northern Ireland said: “Much of the local business community must revise its strategy if it is to trade on a global platform and succeed in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing commercial world.

“We were extremely fortunate to have world class role models here today including Rita Bailey, Lloyd Dorfman and Warren Evans. By demonstrating how their business ventures succeeded, I hope they will challenge the local business community to look past traditional business boundaries and think differently.”

In advance of the day, confirmed participants were invited to share their experiences and attitudes towards strategic innovation by identifying ideas that worked for their organisation, those that failed and issues currently faced. This information was then used to tailor the workshops and presentations, ensuring key concerns were addressed.

In addition, key speakers at the conference held at Lagan Valley Island in Lisburn provided their audience with an entertaining and stimulating mix of personal observations and proven practices:

Lloyd Dorfman, CEO and founder of the Travelex Group provided a truly inspiring insight into the success of his company. Mr Dorfman described how an unconventional and persistent approach helped develop his single bureau de change, founded with a £25,000 loan, into a £20billion+ company which now operates in 34 countries and employs 5000 people worldwide.  

Rita Bailey, formerly people director of SouthWest Airlines, one of the most profitable airlines in the US, is now a respected consultant in the areas of innovation, teamwork, culture, and customer service. At today’s event she underlined the importance of a people-focused organisation and shared the practices and principles associated with creating a profitable people culture.

Warren Evans, President of The Service Excellence Group spent the past 20 years observing the effect of leadership behaviour - in a variety of organisations - on the success of an organisation. Mr Evans focused on new visions for business; using demographics as a predictive tool; the impact of broadband and the ‘techno-revolution’ as well as economics and branding.

The Great Minds Think Differently conference is the first major event to take place as part of Invest NI’s new Strategic Excellence Service. Launched in April 2004, the service provides strategic support to businesses in the form of in-company consultancy, peer workshops and a programme of seminars. Further information is available at